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Activists are obsessed with “white flight,” but why not black flight?

By Shun Smith

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV.

“I’d rather live in a neighborhood of ‘Karens’ than near a poor black community” is the sentiment of most middle-class and higher-income blacks. This rings true in other facets of life. The black student university enrollment at predominantly white institutions far exceeds that of enrollment at historically black colleges. Despite deep mistrust of the government, nearly one-in-five black workers are in public sector and government jobs. Paradoxically, for decades, as middle-class blacks have moved on up like George Jefferson and away from blackness, many have aspired to be modern-day Al Sharptons or Malcolm Xs of the keyboard. 

When people hear the word “flight,” it’s more often associated with “white” flight. As described by former First Lady Michelle Obama during the 2019 Obama Foundation Summit (paraphrasing), white flight is when good black folks are doing everything right to move next to white folks, but white folks say “hell no” and move out.

Michelle grew up in the ‘60s with both parents in the South Shore community of Chicago. Her recounting of white flight, like others, has a rose-tinted telling. Author William Voegeli mentioned, in a rebuttal on white flight, that the homicide rate in Chicago more than doubled from 10.5 per 100,000 in 1960 to 28.7 in 1980.

Voegeli went on to say that “from 1960 to 1980, South Shore’s homeowners saw the value of their primary asset decline, landlords found it increasingly difficult to attract and retain tenants who paid the rent regularly, and enterprises lost good employees and customers.”

It must be rough for Michelle, living in Martha’s Vineyard, MA (population 84% white, 4% black, Census 2020) and waiting on bated breath for the day when her white neighbors pack up and move.

Black flight has occurred precipitously in Prince George’s County (PGC), MD. As defined by BlackFacts.com, black flight is “the out-migration of African Americans from predominantly black or mixed inner-city areas to suburbs and outlying edge cities.” Data would also suggest that blacks are moving to rural America.

For over 20 years, PCG was titled the wealthiest black county. However, that title has been given to the neighboring Charles County, MD. Between 2010 and 2021, Charles County’s black population grew by 10% (40% to 50%) and it saw the largest decrease in whites by 13% (48% to 34%).

Why have so many upper-income blacks moved to Charles County? A sampling of news headlines provides some insight.

In 2021, PGC saw its highest homicide rate in 15 years. Crime offenders are getting younger. PGC executives recently stated that 430 juvenile arrests had been made as of August 2022 and will likely double the number of arrests in 2021. In September, a 16-and-under curfew enforcement plan went into effect for 30 days, with extensions as needed. Most school children in PGC are not meeting expectations in English/Language Arts (75%) and Math (95%). The rate at which middle-class blacks have departed urban areas (a euphemism for ghetto or hood) is nearly on par with that of whites. 

Nine of the 10 cities with the largest black populations (New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Memphis, Washington D.C., and New Orleans) saw declines in black residents over the last 20 years. In what has been coined the 2nd Great Migration, African Americans are moving to smaller cities or suburban areas.

It would be apt to suggest that PGC and Charles County constitute a microcosm for black flight around the U.S. As the exodus continued, more “Karen” incident videos surfaced, reaching the headlines in national news media and international publications.

As a digression, black people missed a perfectly good opportunity to use Kharon, the ferryman(woman) from Greek mythology, who ferried the dead across the river Styx for the god Hades. #Kharonstakingblackbodiestothegrave.

These videos have become tiresome. Here’s a little secret: White people call the police for some of the mildest situations, and nothing is wrong with that. That is not to say that some Karen incidents couldn’t have been malicious or bigoted, but when did black people become so sensitive to microaggressions?

The lack of emotional control when responding to a mostly benign incident demonstrates part of a disease that permeates black culture. It takes a different form in middle- and upper-class blacks, which further bleeds into black men demonstrating effeminate behavior.

The current exhibit occurred in Deerfield Beach, FL (population 60% white, 27% black, Census 2021), with NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens. He had a verbal altercation with a white woman. Long story short, she claimed that T.O. was speeding through the neighborhood. One thing led to another and T.O. exited his car, then approached the unidentified woman. The woman stated, “You’re a black man approaching a white woman.” After the police were called to the scene, the retired diva wide receiver (emphasis on diva) proclaimed that the Karen placed his life in danger. 

This story lasted for nearly a week and made national news, resulting in Owens giving interviews. Flipping back in the annals of time to June 2020, Owens was seen at the front of a BLM protest in West Hollywood, CA, no less with a bullhorn, chanting slogans.

That same year, he was a freedom fighter on Twitter, dropping gems like “U’re an idiot!! Until u’re BLACK and EXPERIENCED what we have as a BLACK RACE have, then STFU!!! I honestly don’t care u looking up to me nor anyone else that’s upset about where I stand! Y’all can KICK ROCKS!!! Say His Name…GEORGE FLOYD! Say Her Name…BREONNA TAYLOR!! #BLM.”

He even found time to seek justice for Colin Kaepernick. I wonder, was all this protesting comfortable from his majority-white neighborhood? Wouldn’t he have been more comfortable over in Lauderdale Lakes, FL (population 10% white, 83% black, Census 2021)? Lauderdale Lakes, FL beats Deerfield Beach in practically every major crime stat.

We are angry at white people for packing up and moving away, but black people tired of living in inner cities move within proximity to whites. Chasing the perceived whiteness almost becomes second nature. During the racial reckoning of 2020, the National Museum of African American History & Culture defined aspects and assumptions of whiteness and white culture in the United States. They forgot to add black flight.

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Shun Smith

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